From the Pastor’s Desk
“Born to Destroy”
1 John 3:8, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”
During this season of advent we celebrate the coming (lit. ‘advent’) of the Lord Jesus Christ to earth. We celebrate the grand reality that the babe in the manger was at the very same time the second person of the Trinity. That is, the one who cried because he was hungry (being fully man) was the same one who spoke the universe into existence and upholds all things by the words of his power (being fully God; see John 1:3; Heb 1:3). But the question we should ask is simply this, “Why did the Son of God come to earth? What was the purpose of the Incarnation?” While there are multiple aspects to this answer given by Scripture (e.g. Matt 28:20; Luke 19:10); there is one reason that I would like to focus on briefly in this devotion. The Apostle John tells us in 1 John 3:8b, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” There are at least two points to note in this verse.
First, the reality of the opposition. John mentions the ‘works of the devil.’ In other words, John assumes the reality and existence of the evil one. The Bible tells us that Satan is a liar and the father of lies; he is a murderer from the beginning; he is the adversary and the accuser of the brethren; he prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour; he is the prince of the power of the air and the god of this world (John 8:44; Rev 12:10; 1 Peter 5:8; Eph 2:2). Furthermore, he hates Christ and his church; and he holds unbelievers captive in their slavery to sin (2 Cor 4:4; 2 Tim 2:26; Rom 6:17). Simply put, Satan is real and he hates believers. His mission is to destroy the children of God, to tempt them to sin, to deceive, and to do as much damage as possible to Christ’s precious bride.
And second, the response of our Lord. In a word, according to John in this text, Jesus came to deal with the problem. That is, he came to deal with Satan – more than that, he came to destroy Satan. Interestingly, the term translated ‘destroy’ literally means ‘to loose.’ Thus, the idea is that Satan holds us in chains and in bondage … and Jesus has come to set us free – to redeem us – from our bondage and slavery. The author of Hebrews sheds important light on this theme when he says, “that through death he [Jesus] might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (2:14). This text in Hebrews serves as a commentary on our verse in 1 John. Indeed, Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil – and he did so through his death and resurrection by which he dealt with our sin problem once and for all. And in so doing, he set us free from our slavery to sin! Truly we are free in Christ!
Dear brothers and sisters, as we are now in the midst of the Christmas season, may we daily reflect on the truth of the Incarnation. And may we fall to our knees in worship. Jesus came to earth to live, to die, and to rise again. And he did so for you and for me – for his people – his church. The babe in the manger is the Savior, the King, the Redeemer, and the Destroyer! He came to destroy the works of the devil. Jesus came to set his people free! And that dear, friends, is reason to rejoice this season!
Rev. Robert Arendale